It’s not easy being a member of the Idaho State football team. The Bengals not only have to fight off the opposition, they have to fight off themselves.
Saturday night at Woodward Stadium, ISU conquered both. The Bengals beat Eastern Washington 14-7 despite collecting 16 penalties for 159 yards, one ejection and one thrown helmet. The Bengals are averaging 133 yards in penalties this season.
The Bengals, ranked No. 16 in Division I-AA, moved their record to 2-0 in the Big Sky Conference, 5-0 overall. Eastern lost its third straight and fell to 0-2, 2-3.
In spite of ISU’s suicidal tendencies, the Bengals came into the game averaging 420 yards in total offense.
Although Eastern allowed ISU 344 total yards, it did not give up the big play on which ISU thrives. The problem for EWU was that it could only muster 216 yards of offense itself.
In assuming the starting quarterback role earlier in the week, sophomore Harry Leons completed 13 of 29 passes for 87 yards, along with five interceptions.
With the score tied at 7-7 in the fourth quarter, Leons’ fourth interception proved the most costly.
Eastern had a third-and-9 situation at its own 17 yard-line when Leons tried to connect with tight end Jesse Hardt. Instead, he connected with ISU defensive back Mark Echohawk who picked off the ball at the EWU 40 and returned it to the Eagles’ 15.
Three plays later, ISU running back Alfredo Anderson scored on a 3-yard run to give the Bengals the lead for good.
“With a quarterback making his first start of the season, you’re bound to have problems like that,” Eastern coach Mike Kramer said. “I think offensively we got conservative and didn’t give the kid the opportunity to put the ball in the right spot at the right time.”
Leons replaced suspended starter Brian Sherick and backup Scott Bond after they violated curfew after last weekend’s loss to Weber State.
Kramer said he’d do a lot of thinking and while watching more game tape of Leons’ performance before announcing who will start in Saturday’s contest at Idaho.
Said Leons after the contest: “I don’t think I did my job tonight. The defense played their hearts out and I let them down.”
Leons was probably the only Eagle who felt that way. His teammates and coaches know that few players who have never played in a college rarely step in at the quarterback position and make an immediate impact.
In spite of a conservative offense, Eastern was never out of this game. ISU did everything it could to keep them in it with an array of penalties.
The most dramatic and most damaging penalty for ISU occurred in the third quarter when the Bengals’ starting center, senior Shaun Lawson, took exception to a holding call and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
After Lawson was eventually ejected for not keeping his mouth closed, he launched his helmet over the fence on the east side of the Woodward Stadium track.
Lawson’s absence proved costly because his backup, Jason Shephard, had trouble in the center-quarterback exchange with Wetta.
As for the scoring, Eastern got on the scoreboard first as it capitalized on a 13-play 76-yard drive late in the second half that resulted in running back Joe Sewell scoring on a 5-yard tocuchdown run.
On that drive, Leons completed 4 of 4 passes for 43 yards. The Eagles were able to capitalize on the Bengals’ strong tendency to defense the run. Leons did a good job of play-faking the handoff to a running back before rolling right and completing the four passes.
Even though Eastern scored with 1:14 left in the half, it was still enough time for Idaho State to march downfield.
Starting from their own 21-yard line, Wetta marched the Bengals down to the Eastern 3 with 3 seconds to go in the half. However, James Ferrell’s 21-yard field goal sailed right and the half ended.
On ISU’s first drive of the half, Anderson got his first score and knotted the game at 7-7 when he bolted 26 yards straight up the middle of the field on a draw-play.
More damaging than the defeat in the loss column for EWU were the players lost in the game.
Starting left guard T.J. Ackerman blew out the ACL in his right knee and will miss the remainder of the year.
And in the second half, for the second straight week, wide receiver Jerrold Jackson suffered another painful hit after catching a pass from Leons. Jackson was helped off the field and never returned.
Idaho St. 14, Eastern 7
Idaho St. 0 0 7 7 - 14
E. Washington 0 7 0 0 - 7
EWUSewell 5 run (Zurfluh kick) ISUA.Anderson 26 run (Ferrell kick) ISUA.Anderson 3 run (Ferrell kick)
ISU EWU First downs 21 13 Rushes-yards 37-108 34-129 Passing 236 87 Return Yards 105 36 Comp-Att-Int 23-35-1 13-29-5 Punts 7-38 6-36 Fumbles-Lost 5-1 2-0 Penalties-Yards 16-159 6-51 Time of Possession 33:01 26:59
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHINGIdaho St., A.Anderson 20-88, Joseph 5-28, Nkeyasen 5-17, Wetta 6-(minus 4), team 1-(minus 21). E. Washington, Sewell 23-83, Lewis 9-38, Leons 2-9.
PASSINGIdaho St., Wetta 35-23-1-236. E. Washington, Leons 29-13-5-87.
RECEIVINGIdaho St., A.Anderson 7-53, Waters 6-70, Young 4-61, Giles 3-26, Clifford 2-21, Spence 1-5. E. Washington, Phelps 3-25, Hardt 3-23, Sewell 3-9, Miller 1-16, Jackson 1-12, Lewis 1-2, Hunsaker 1-0.
Montana St. 16, Idaho 13
Idaho 10 0 0 3 - 13
Montana St. 3 7 6 0 - 16
UI-Longoria 1 run (Woolverton kick) MSUGroshelle 38 FG
UI-Woolverton 31 FG MSUTuss 1 run (Groshelle kick) MSUTuss 2 run (kick failed)
UI-Woolverton 32 FG
UI MSU First downs 15 19 Rushes-yards 39-105 47-180 Passing 205 149 Return Yards 83 47 Comp-Att-Int 14-32-0 14-31-1 Punts 7-33 7-36 Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1 Penalties-Yards 10-79 5-54 Time of Possession 29:44 30:16
RUSHINGIdaho, Kidd 31-105, Brennan 3-4, M. Williams 2-3, Longoria 1-1. Montana St., Engelking 36-165, Morgan 2-14, Hopkins 1-6.
PASSINGIdaho, Brennan 11-27-0-173, Hisaw 3-5-0-32. Montana St., Tuss 14-31-1-149.
RECEIVINGIdaho, Griffin 6-64, Gilroy 2-49, McKinzie 3-47. Montana St., Bragg 2-31, Morgan 2-27, Hopkins 3-26.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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